I was going to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space that night but the dvd was too beat up to play. The irony of subsituting the Worst Movie Ever Made with Anaconda was not lost on me.
My Kari Wuhrer film festival begins! Finally. I had the idea for this two years ago, when I noticed that she was in two Prophecy movies and a Hellraiser flick. Why Kari Wuhrer, you ask? Is it just for the cheap irony of celebrating an obvious B-movie personality? Well, yeah, a little. After all, I did have a Uwe Boll film festival a couple of years ago.
It's not like I was knocked over by her overlooked talent, although she's a perfectly adequate actress. As a matter of fact, besides Eight Legged Freaks I don't think I'd seen her in anything since the MTV game show Remote Control. I think my interest has remained sparked ever since seeing her in ads for the Sci-Fi channel show Sliders, which ended in 2000. I never watched the show, but her petite, curvy frame and wide brown eyes made me think that maaaybe I might be missing something.
Whatever the reason, her presence got me to watch Anaconda, and that's something. This movie is just as craptacular as you've probably heard, despite what sounds like a strong cast. Eric Stoltz and Jennifer Lopez lead an documentary film crew on an expedition deep into the Amazon to find a tribe only rumored to exist. On the way they rescue a boatwrecked Jon Voight, despite his ridiculous accent. I'm not saying it was a poorly-executed whatever kind of accent it was, but it was ridiculous, trust me. At first Voight's presence seems a lucky break, as his knowledge of the jungle comes in handy a number of times, but when he's alone he sports covert facial expressions of practiced EVIL like the one below.
So you know he's up to no good. When Eric Stoltz is injured by a well-placed wasp, it's Voight's idea to take a quicker but more dangerous route back to civilization. This involves dynamiting someone's homemade dam; "you weel help me, Owen Weelson, we will take the leetle boat." A bit later there's a major plot point because all but one of the fuel barrels have fallen overboard, yet nobody mentions taking the "leetle boat" out to go get them. This kind of sharp tactical thinking characterizes a lot of this gang's maneuvers.
Voight is a hunter of rare snakes, and he's manipulated all these events in order to bag the mammoth anaconda that legend says lives in this forbidden jungle. Exactly how he planned to do that with only the stuff in his duffel bag is unclear, but he seduces some of the crew with promises of snakey riches and they take a stab at it with disasterous results. Realizing Voight set this all up, the remaining crew foolishly opt not to kill him, both to be nice guys and because they'll need him in the jungle ahead. That last point turns out to be a crock, as the only help he provides is to kill one of them and use the others as snake bait. Does his plan work? I'll never tell.
Anaconda treads the line between Bad Enough To Be Good and Plain Old Bad, almost always slipping into the wet, muddy puddle of Plain Old Bad. Ever since I watched my friend's pet snake passively observe a live mouse it was constricting, I've always been a little fascinated by that cold, reptilian remorselessness. With it's poorly-orchestrated action and crappy CG effects, Anaconda pretty much misses that coolness by a wide margin every time, and it's a bit too commercially cynical to grab any of that bravery I talked about in my Unnamable II review. But, with a couple of friends and some tequila, it maybe might be worth your time. Maybe. If nothing else, it's got "gullet-cam." Eeww!